Giving Compass' Take:

• Lewis S. Nelson explains how COVID-19 may impact people with chronic pain and the support they will need to make it through this time. 

• How can you support people with chronic pain and help them access necessary medication? 

• Read about finding a solution for the opioid crisis and pain

What health challenges do chronic pain sufferers and people recovering from addiction face during this period of social distancing?

The main concerns are the lack of availability of opioids and to some extent, other pain medications and medications needed for addiction treatment.

The abrupt reduction or absence of opioid medications, whether used for pain or opioid use disorder (methadone and buprenorphine), leads to an uncomfortable withdrawal syndrome.

This in turn, can lead to poor decision-making and risk-taking by patients, which can have long term consequences.

How are doctors prepping their high risk patients on managing chronic pain and opioid addiction during this self-isolation period?

States regulate pain medications and the federal government controls opioid use disorder medications (methadone and buprenorphine).

Both regulatory systems have typically relaxed their normally tight rules to enhance access, such as allowing for more extended prescription durations and the use of telemedicine to evaluate patients without a direct visit or physical examination.

Physicians are communicating the potential for shortages and the need to have clear communication channels and alternative strategies should necessary medications for pain or addiction not be easily available.

Should people be concerned about medication shortages during the current crisis?

Due to production and importation concerns, there is the potential for all medications to be challenging to obtain.

Read the full interview with Lewis S. Nelson about COVID-19 and chronic pain by Maud Alobawone at Futurity.